Shine, New Regency team for '1066' epic

William Nicholson brought on to write screenplay

LONDON -- Shine Pictures, the new joint venture between U.K.-based Shine Group's Kudos Pictures and Arnon Milchan's New Regency, has hired "Gladiator" scribe William Nicholson to pen a big-screen version of the epic, era-defining battle in 1066 between King Harold and William the Conqueror for the throne of England.

Dubbed "1066," the project is being fast-tracked and is expected to go into production this year, marking the first effort under the joint venture set up in July.

Shine's Paul Webster will produce "1066" with Stephen Garrett and work closely with New Regency co-chairmen Bob Harper and Hutch Parker and Shine Group's Elisabeth Murdoch on the project, the parties said.

Nicholson said that the script focuses on the fraught relationship between the two greatest warriors of the age, King Harold of England and William the Conqueror. Starting as comrades, they became bitter enemies destined to fight to the death at the climactic Battle of Hastings.

New Regency is 20% owned by Fox, with which it inked a 15-year distribution deal in 1998. Fox will have worldwide distribution on the picture through the deal.

Webster said that the film will be "an intimate portrait of two men told on an epic scale." No budget details were disclosed but the full-scale costume drama is to feature two massive battles and a naval exchange and fits in with New Regency's stated ambition to make big, commercial movies.